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NEW EUROPEAN STANDARDS FOR DIVING

European Standards for Recreational Diving were published in early 2004 and define the state of the art for scuba diver and instructor training and the operation of dive centres and resorts. Although the standards are not binding in Egypt, instructors and dive centres will still get considerable marketing advantage by complying with them, as more and more, European consumers will be specifically looking for operators that follow the standards. This article will show how PADI has taken steps to comply with the standards and how PADI members in Egypt can benefit from this. A number of other training agencies are taking similar steps.
The standards were jointly developed over a five year period by diver training organisations, consumer representatives and government representatives under the auspices of the European Committee for Standardisation, also known as CEN. The objectives of these European Standards (also known as European Norms) are as follows:

For divers:
•to ensure a high level of quality and safety
•to create internationally recognised diver qualifications, so making it simple for divers to have their qualifications recognised internationally
For diving professionals:
•to provide defensible standards for the teaching and guiding of divers
•to provide scuba instructors with an internationally accepted qualification which will allow them to easily work across Europe
For dive centres and resorts:
•to specify safety-related guidelines specifying how the typical activities of a service provider should be conducted; including training, equipment hire, and the conduct of dive trips
PADI representatives from PADI Europe, PADI International Ltd and PADI Nordic were heavily involved in the design of these standards. PADI subsequently introduced a number of changes to its standards in 2004 in order to exactly align its programmes with the European Standards.

The standards are even finding favour outside of Europe. For example, the South African Standards Generating Body is in the process of creating standards for recreational diving in the country, and rather than reinventing the wheel, they are examining the possibility of using a modified version of the European Standards as a basis for their own ones.
Since the introduction of the European Standards, a need arose to have an independent, respected body audit training organisations that wished to claim compliance with the standards and confirm that they do in fact meet all of the relevant requirements.
As a result the EUF Certification Body was formed, a joint-venture of the European Underwater Federation (EUF) and the Austrian Standards Institute. The EUF Certification Body meets the requirements for certification bodies specified in the European Standard EN 45011.
Certification by the EUF Certification Body follows a stringent auditing process that allows successful training organisations to prove convincingly that their training programmes are in full conformity with the requirements defined in the European Standards on recreational diving services.
During 2004, the PADI offices of PADI Europe, PADI International Ltd and PADI Nordic jointly applied for EUF Certification. The procedure involved them initially submitting course materials for the relevant programmes to prove the courses met the European Standards. This was followed up by the EUF Certification auditors visiting the PADI offices and inspecting the procedures and quality management systems to ensure that PADI could monitor the effectiveness of its courses. Finally, the auditors observed four actual training courses taking place in three different countries to observe the delivery of the programmes in practice.

On the 31st October 2004, PADI received a Certificate of Conformity from the EUF Certifying Body stating that PADI courses fulfil the requirements of the equivalent European Standards. Mark Caney, Vice President of Training, Education and Memberships at PADI International Ltd and Jack Lavanchy, President of PADI Europe, received the Certificate on behalf of PADI at the Dive 2004 show in Birmingham, England.
Any of the relevant PADI certification cards issued in the European region now have the relevant standard referenced on the card to show that the diver is not only that level of PADI diver, but also has met the requirements of the relevant European Standard. For example, an Open Water Diver card will bear the text “EUF certifies this qualification meets EN 14153-2: Autonomous Diver”.

Copies of the European Standards can be obtained from any of the CEN member countries’ Standards Bodies.
The contact information for these can be found in the Members section of the CEN website: www.cenorm.be
For details of the EUF Certifying Body and to see a list of training organisations that are currently certified, go to www.euf-certification.org

 

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